This brilliant and well-illustrated 1892 work by Doctor Gustave Le Bon constitutes the greatest 19th Century study on how races and peoples transform their civilization and arts. Some of Le Bon's most important findings are: 1) "Of all the factors which preside over the adoption and evolution of the fundamental elements of a civilization, the most important one is race;" 2) "When a people belonging to a very superior race is in contact with a people of a very inferior race, the second is absolutely unable to borrow and assume anything of use for itself from the first;" and 3) "The civilizing action that certain peoples can exercise over others has been proportionally more profound the further back in history one goes."
May 9, 2012 Subject:
Gustave Le Bon, besides authoring over 100 major scientific papers and books during his lengthy career, founded the extremely important scientific field of Social Psychology. This remarkable work, "How Races and Peoples Transform Their Civilization and Arts," evidences why Le Bon is regarded by many to be the greatest scientist that History has forgotten. Here we see Le Bon's full genius at work, wherein he provides unparalleled insights and answers to the complicated question of how civilizations form and evolve. Perhaps the most profound insight he offers is "the saddening conclusion that it is the philosophically most inferior elements of a civilization that, socially, are the most useful." By this Le Bon means that old, established civilizations are generally destroyed, and new ones created, by "unlettered persons possessing a very strong ideal and very slight needs, while possessing as well very narrow ideas. Indeed, world empire has always belonged to the convinced, whose principal strength consists of their servitude to a single idea, and their complete incapacity to reflect and reason." By absorbing the valuable teachings Le Bon presents here, one is able to gain a significantly greater understanding of the societal forces at work worldwide today. We are most grateful to Robert K. Stevenson for his excellent translation into English of this unjustly neglected masterwork.
-- Professor Gerald Kuhn